NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/ AP) — Following the arrest of a white man Thursday in connection with the slayings of nine people, including the pastor, at a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, President Obama said he has had to deliver these remarks too often.
“The attorney general has announced plans for the FBI to open a hate crime investigation,” Obama said from the White House.
“We understand that the suspect is in custody and I’ll let the best of law enforcement do its work to make sure that justice is served. Until the investigation is complete, I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case. But I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise,” Obama said.
“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts, but we do know once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and healing but let’s be clear. At some point we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, stayed for nearly an hour inside the church Wednesday night before shooting six females and three males at a prayer meeting, Police Chief Greg Mullen said.
Roof put up no resistance after a citizen tip led police to his car Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, Mullen said.
“Acts like this one have no place in our country,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who announced a Justice Department hate crime investigation. “They have no place in a civilized society.”
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed. Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.
The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area.
The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a sponsor of that bill.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a moment of silence Thursday morning for the victims.
“I want everyone to know there’s no place in New York City for this kind of hatred,” he told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb, at an unrelated event.
He said there was no specific evidence of any threats against local churches, but said the NYPD has increased resources directed at protecting African-American churches as a precaution.
De Blasio’s remarks on the Charleston shooting come days after the ATF announced it was joining the NYPD in an effort to get gun crimes under control, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported exclusively Monday.
It was a collective decision made by the federal government, the NYPD, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.Those agencies are mounting a first-ever anti-gun initiative in high-crime areas, Kramer reported.
“There’s going to be an increase in federal arrests – no doubt,” said ATF agent Charles Mulham.
Mulham’s words were intended to be a stiff warning to city residents who would carry weapons, and seem all to ready to use them. They will not only have to deal with the NYPD, but they will have the feds on their tail too.
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